A Giant Sucking Sound: a President Perot TL

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A foreword is not always convenient. To quote Karl Marx, « famous last words are for people who didn’t have enough time to express themselves ». I will certainly not have enough time to explain myself.

The figure of Ross Perot has always interested me, for he had a somewhat erratic but true chance to reach the presidency : the 1992 presidential election, by the way, was the first organized after the fall of the Soviet Union, and would certainly interfere a lot with the Nineties, which were relatively peaceful, if you were living in a western country by then, of course.

Ross Perot had many obstacles : his own behaviour, his lack of support, and furthermore the strength of the American two-party system. But for the sake of literary prospect, let’s say that he manages to. This is for people who will say I’m not respecting history enoguh : not only is reality itself implausible, but who could claim enough knowledge on what could have been, and what couldn’t have been ?

Of course, the lack of knowledge over these matters will be resented into this narrative : I have tried to recapitulate and see what I could do of everything that had happened during the 1990s and 2000s, and I have provided significant detail to US politics, detailing the list of each representative, senator, cabinet member, or governor : on their personnality, I cannot tell ; even I consider myself as above average in my knowledge of US politics, I’m still a 21-years-old history student, who doesn’t have a clue on economics, and has a taste for writing and reading novels, and therefore to fiction. So please don’t blame me for the inconsistencies of this narrative.
Butterflies and alien space bats are the alternate historians’ best friends, after all.

But still, I’m open to your blame on my poor grammar or my spelling mistakes, for I’m French and English is far from being my maternal language. I will also welcome every suggestion of event or else, or questions about the narrative adressed within the thread or in MP.
For the tributes, the list is so long but I will try : thanks to Historico who has inspired me with his Reagan ’68 TL, thanks to Statichaos for the awesomeness of his President Disney TL which I have translated personally in French, and so to oakvale for his Jerry Brown/Henry Ford TLs ; John Fredrick Parker for inspiring me to launch into this endeavour ; Dead Sea Squirrels for trying once a Perot TL, to which I owe much inspiration ; Han, Lord Roem and Meadows for their excellent TLs, and RogueBeaver for giving his incredible knowledge to the art of alternate history.

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« To those of you in the audience who are business people, pretty simple: If you're paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor, hire young -- let's assume you've been in business for a long time and you've got a mature work force -- pay a dollar an hour for your labor, have no health care -- that's the most expensive single element in making a car -- have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south. »

Ross Perot during the second presidential debate, October, 12 1992

By Masked Pickle

What if Ross Perot had been elected President of the United States ?

« Once a person was asked to step into this brutal century, anything could happen. »

Many of you are familiar with this quote from A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, especially if you have heard it utterred by Will Ferrell, in Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the book. Ignatius Reilly is of course referring to the Twentieth Century, but the movie subtext points to our current century, the Twenty-First, most notably by portraying the ruined landscape of New Orleans : the movie was shot in 2006, merely a year after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, and was funded by the state of Louisiana, represented by then-Governor David Vitter. But I imagine you’ve seen the movie : maybe you preferred to see Quentin Tarantino’s Casino Royale the same year. (laughs)

With this confusion over the centuries, I can start my conference by this question : when did the Twenty-First Century started ? Please, don’t answer on January, 1 2001. It’s correct, but my question is metaphorical. (laughs) It is generally accepted that the Twentieth Century ended with the Cold War, in December, 26 1991, when Gorbachev disbanded the Soviet Union ; other take October, 12 2000, with the Asian Pacific attacks, and I have a colleague in the University of Berlin who use December, 14 2005, with the ratification of the European Constitution.

As I said in my book, the Twenty-First Century began, at least for the United States, with the election of Ross Perot to the presidency, on November, 3 1992.

I won’t – No, I won’t decide whether or not President Perot is responsible for the current domestic and foreign situation : first for his recent demise, then because the factors that led to the 2004 economic recession are too many to be blamed on one administration, and finally because it is too early to blame the current situations in Korea, Serbia, the Caucasus, Cuba, Nigeria or Kivu.

Just remember the situation in 1992. The Republicans had dominated the White House for twelve years, and were credited with the victories over the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein, but couldn’t manage the ongoing economic crisis. The Democrats were ready to take back control of the country. There were successful negotiations for a free trade zone in North America, a solution was maybe reached for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the USSR had collapsed, US troops were garrisonned in the entire Middle East, ex-Yugoslavia was torn by civil war, and China was steadying itself for a free market economy.

Then a Texan businessman suddenly showed up : he said that Democrats and Republicans were all the same, that what this country needed was a balanced budget and a withdrawal from world affairs, instead of bothering with social issues. He ran a campaign without too many gaffes ; some said that he even considered to withdraw his bid. Many considered him a long shot ; but in the end, he would become the first independant candidate to reach the Oval Office since George Washington, and effectively blew up the two-party system, which had dominated the United States since the Civil War.

The Perot Presidency remains undoubtedly a synonym of great upheaval, of troubled and even bloodstained times, beginning the post-Cold War era with a bang. Many still refer to him as an eccentric billionaire who should never have been President, others as a manipulative genius, and a third party would consider his administration as nothing less but a political quagmire.

But do we have, twenty years after this fateful election ? We have had many wars, many terrorist attacks, our first Jewish, African American and female Presidents. We have a reformed health care, Internet in every aspect of everyday life, and a great American leadership over worldwide affairs. This is the world to which we belong. And this is the world Ross Perot made.

-Webconference from Dr. Henry Jones IV, Professor of Political Science in Harvard, June, 11 2013

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Pretty awesome, I must admit. However, I've also been hoping to do a Ross Perot tl once I get done with my current timeline, so I hope not to steal too many of your ideas or anything, and I'm hoping the market for a Perot tl won't be over-saturated. Still, should be an entertaining read.
As for Perot's cabinet, I don't know if you have anything planned along those lines, but here're a coupl'a options. You've probably heard of all these people given the research I think I read that you did, but I'll give brief summaries.
-Jerry Brown (California Governor 1975-1983), ran in 1992 and pretty much had a very similar platform to Perot's. I could see him as Commerce Secretary or maybe Attorney General.
-Warren Rudman (US Senator 1981-1993), fiscally cosnervative, socially liberal, has experience in deficit reduction and could prove similar to Perot on social and economic positions. Could see him as Treasury Secretary.
-Patrick J Buchanan (Whitehouse Communications Director 1985-1987, Conservative activist), he shares Perot's views when it comes to economics and foreign policy and I could very well see him helping to bring in supporters from the Republican camp. Possibly National Security Adviser, after all, he went on foreign trips with both Reagan and Nixon including some very important summits.
-Jesse Ventura (Mayor of somethinorother 1991-1995, Minnesota Governor). By 1993 he'd have two years of government experience and could possibly be set up in Transportation.
-Ralph Nader as Energy Secretary? This has been used in another tl about Perot elsewhere, but I see it as a good fit.

Anyway, I'm not going to try to write your timeline for you, but I like tossing out options, so there they are. Good luck.
possible POD

Ed Rollins stays on as Perot's campaign manager as opposed to resigning after the whole paranoid "the Bushes are out to sabotage my daughter's wedding" episode.

Still, this is a candidate who honestly thought Patsy Cline's "Crazy" would make a good campaign theme song -- it's going to be tough to butterfly away his essentially unelectable personality.
Ha, great timeline man! Initially, I had wanted to make Ross Perot President in my TL, but I've decided not to go that route. He'll do better in the general, though, and maybe win a state or two.
As I always say when this subject comes up, someone used to the power of a CEO would find checks and balances very frustrating. particularly as be would have no Reform Party allies in Congress.
Chapter 1: From Dallas to Washington


SAN FRANCISCO – At a press conference in San Francisco, Texan industrialist and billionaire Ross Perot, who has launched an independant bid to the presidency in past February, has announced his definitive choice of running mate : former governor of California Jerry Brown, who then made a press conference at his home in Oakland, California, where he detailed the reasons that led him to accept Mr. Perot’s offer, in particular their economic and social platforms, which proved to be close in terms of opposition to NAFTA, tax cuts and Washington insiders.

Governor Brown had succeeded Ronald Reagan as a Democrat from 1975 to 1983, and had made three unsuccessful bids to the democratic presidential nomination : in 1976, he went second and went to the Convention without withdrawing, but couldn’t beat the momentum reached by Jimmy Carter ; in 1980, he withdrew after a poor showing in the Wisconsin primary, being overshadowed by the insurgent bid of Senator Ted Kennedy ; and this year, in 1992, he ran a grassroots, populist campaign focused on the corruption at Capitol Hill and heavy taxes, and in spite of being considered a long shot at first, Governor Brown finished to become the last candidate against Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, who finally defeated him in the New York, Wisconsin and California primaries, and who was finally nominated.

This announcement, coming the day just after the Democratic National Convention, and almost a week after Governor Clinton’s choice of Senator Al Gore of Tennessee as his running mate, is a blot from the blue for political pundits, and could well undermine the well-awaited « convention bounce » for the Democratic ticket. Mr. Perot has been maintaining a decent lead in polls since Spring, his only issues having been his failures at finding a decent vice-presidential candidate, using retired admiral and prisoner of war James Stockdale as a filler.
Washington Post, July 17 1992

As I knew my father-in-law, I knew what running a campaign with him would be a rocky road, but when he proposed me to become his aide, I immediately accepted ; Nancy promised that she would everything she could to counter the short temper of his father. The support of my wife was not to be refused, precisely when I saw Ross, Jr.’ softness with his father.

It’s me who had the idea of proposing Jerry Brown to be on the ticket : Ross was first revolted with the idea, he wanted Bernadine Healy instead, Brown was for him nothing less than an opportunistic and nutty hippie from California, but I pointed out the fact that their social and economic platforms were quite the same, and that his name recognition would be a great asset for our campaign. He finally accepted, telling that should he run for re-election in 1996, he would drop him from the ticket.

(…) But this decision maybe saved the campaign ; only a few people actually know that, but Ross was about to withdraw from the race whenever he lost a few points in the polls ; I had to put all my energy into convincing Ed Rollins and Hamilton Jordan not to quit his team, and to convince Ross to trust them, as they had ran successful presidential campaigns before and had proved themselves. I told him to speak with complete confidence with the NAACP and the LGBT leaders, to address issues like AIDS and affirmative action, and to keep for himself his increased fears that Republican operatives would disrupt Carolyn’s wedding in August. I joked one day, while sitting with him, Rollins and Tom Luce, that after all, maybe he was right, and that Lee Atwater’s ghost had been summoned to help Bush’s campaign. We all laughed ; all, except Ross himself, who looked daggers at me.
-From The President’s Son-in-Law : Memoirs from Washington, by former White House Counsel Clay Mulford

Carolyn Perot’s wedding with his doctor went perfect, celebrated by the Dallas smart set and, last but not least, most of the supporters of the bride’s quite famous father, billionaire and presidential candidate Ross Perot. Quite busy of course, Mr. Perot was nowhere to be found, but our correspondant has managed to obtain an interview from our First Lady-to be, Mrs. Margot Perot...
People Weekly, August 1992


CNN Breaking News

On the campaign trail, the Paula Jones case could well become a thorn on Governor Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign : this former Arkansas State Employee has filed yesterday a sexual harassment suit against the Democratic presidential candidate, claiming that the Governor propositionned her in Little Rock Excelsior Hotel. Governor Clinton’s press secretary has not yet released a statement, but contacted by phone, his wife, Mrs. Clinton, has claimed that the Paula Jones case is just « a vast right-wing conspiracy ». This controversy comes just after the allegations according to which Governor Clinton has had an affair with model Gennifer Flowers. In the polls, the Governor is trailed by billionnaire Ross Perot, who is now behind President Bush…
CNN, September, 19 1992

« What you've been through hasn't been pretty, but by golly, you're taking your country back. »
Ross Perot during his last campaign event in Dallas, TX, November, 3 1992


In the headquarters in Dallas, we were all sitted, watching non-stop for CNN, Patsy Cline’s Crazy was played on the radio. The persons present were Ross and Margot, of course ; but also Junior, Nancy, Suzanne, Carolyn and Katherine, the future First Family. I was serving coffee to them, then the high ranked aides came in the room : Luce, Rollins, Jordan, James Squire, Gerald Rafshoon, Frank Luntz, Doug Bailey and Morton Meyerson.

Ross was speaking with Brown, who was watching TV in his home in Oakland, California, when the first results came in.

Indiana was yet too close to call, but we were not suprised by Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia South Carolina : the two first were easily winneable by a Southerner such as Clinton, and the last two were among the bluest states. Ross whispered : « If I can’t win a single electoral vote, I will be among the worst failures of US history ».

We all shouted for joy when Maine became green, the color reserved for the independants ; the Pine Tree State was well known for his taste for independance, and we had our best chances here. Ed Rollins commented that at least, by taking a single state, Perot could form a viable third party in the future.

It was at this moment that Margot shouted: "Oh my God!". We all turned to her : she had stayed in front of the television.

Indiana, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maryland were called for Perot. The breaking news on the bottom of the screen were announcing that Florida was fought between Perot and Bush, and that a recount was about to be initiated.

The rest is history.
-From The President’s Son-in-Law : Memoirs from Washington, by former White House Counsel Clay Mulford


Henry Ross Perot (I-TX)/Former Governor Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr. (I-CA) : 270 electoral votes, 27 states carried, 31, 8% of the popular vote
Governor William Jefferson Clinton (D-AR)/Senator Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. (D-TN) : 217 electoral votes, 18 states and D.C. carried, 36, 9% of the popular vote
President George Herbert Walker Bush (R-TX)/Vice President James Danforth Quayle (R-IN) : 51 electoral votes, 5 states carried, 30, 7% of the popular vote

« -What do I do, now ? »
-Attributed to President-Elect Ross Perot, after hanging up the phone and receiving Bill Clinton’s concession, on Election Night 1992

« Q : Senator Quayle, do you agree with the idea that your poor performance in the 1992 vice-presidential debate was among the causes of President Bush’s third place in the election ?

Sen. Quayle : Nonsense. The late President Bush is and remains one of the greatest presidents that the United States of America ever had, and he had an huge experience for him and his campaign. I respect former President Perot’s victory and administration, but I repeat what I said back in 1992 : he is a temperamental and incompetent tycoon. I prefer to put the blame on Bill Clinton : his scandalous affairs, along with his rampant corruption, that was proved by the Whitewater case that led to his eventual resignation, would have made him the worst president ever – and he gave more blows to the Democrats than both Mr. Perot and President Bush.

Q : Is it a cutting remark towards one of the current Democratic candidates ?

Sen. Quayle : Senator Clinton is a very competent lawmaker, and I wish her well, because she had to bear the affronts of her ex-husband. But being a scorned woman doesn’t qualify you for the Oval Office ! (laughs alone) Meh. »

-Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Senate Dan Quayle (R-IN), during the first Republican party presidential debate, May 2007
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It's definitely going to bite Perot in the ass that he may have won the electoral vote, but lost the popular vote to both Bush and Clinton...
Cathcon1: Even if I planned everything from 1992 to 2012, including the congressionnal lists, it's always a delight to receive suggestions from someone, especially one whom I like the timelines. All these people should have their place in this TL.

freethinker, vultan -
Welcome aboard!

Plumber - As a big fan of the novel, I have read on the Holy Wikipedia that Steven Soderbergh actually considered this version, with Will Ferrell as Ignatius... Sigh. I wish John Belushi would have stayed alive to play into this movie. As a big movie fan, and having seen the outburst around statichaos' annoTuncement of Orson Welles' Batman, except this TL to be full of movies who could have been... My challenge is to guess who is playing James Bond in Quentin Tarantino's Casino Royale; the winner will have the right to ask me anything on the future of this TL.

Andrew T, Paul McNutt - As you see, I have already followed your guesses, and as you could also see, it takes quite a change of behaviour for Perot to win the day. If I wanted to be a little more realistic, I would have make him win a few states, or at best throw the election to the House of Representatives, and then build a coherent party; for the sake of entertainment, I'm going to have him build this coherent party DURING his presidency, so he can make his own agenda.

vultan 2 - Fixed it. I can't imagine an incumbent President could drop so much, and the Democrats not take advantage of 12 years of Republican domination.
Interesting idea. I like your attention to detail.
What are Ross's foreign policy views?

I could give you some ideas for different world leaders in this TL if you'd like.
Great job. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this plays put. Also, will my man Stockdalr get any sort of role on the admin.? I find the idea of him in the cabinet as interesting.
Chapter 2: Building a team

-Financial Times, November, 22 1992


Secretary of the Treasury Felix Rohatyn


Attorney General Thomas D. Barr

-Washington Post, November, 25 1992

« Can you imagine that, James ? I have been in politics for almost thirty years, and this Dallas dude comes from nowhere and drives me to the third place. What have I done to deserve this ? »
-Outgoing President George H. W. Bush to his Chief of Staff James Baker, after announcing that the NAFTA negotiations are to be indefinitely postponed, November, 29 1992

« A Republican congressman has treated me of traitor after I accepted Mr. Perot’s offer ; but I was a Democrat when I accepted President Reagan’s offer to become his ambassador at the United Nations, and I finally recognized that I agreed with the President-Elect on most foreign issues. »
-Press conference of former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick upon accepting the position of Secretary of State in the Perot administration, November, 30 1992


Secretary of State Jeane Kirkpatrick

Today, President-elect Perot has unveiled his choices for his foreign affairs team : R. James Woolsey, Jr., longtime collaborator for both Republican and Democratic administrations, is to become National Security Advisor ; Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General James R. Clapper, is now CIA Director-designate, while judge Louis Freeh is scheduled to become FBI Director…
-CNN, December, 1 1992


Director of CIA James Clapper

« It’s with great pleasure that I accepted President Perot’s offer to become his ambassador at the United Nations, and that I will take leave of this newspaper to serve this great nation. »
-Last editorial of Katharine Graham in the Washington Post, December, 3 1992


UN Ambassador Katharine Graham

As expected, the Perot administration will be full of sons and daughters of Texas, as the Bush one was. Let’s take a look on the picks that the President-elect has already announced.
-Tom Luce, who was an unsuccessful candidate to the Republican nomination as gubernatorial candidate back in 1990, and became the architect of the effort to draft Perot, is to become the Second Most Powerful Man in Washington, or better said, White House Chief of Staff, supervisor of all external and internal matters that interest the Presidency.
-Morton Meyerson, former EDS president from Dallas, has a strong reputation as a philanthropist attached to environnmental matters : he was the logical pick for Secretary of the Interior.
-Ernesto Cortes, who was entitled by the Industrial Areas Foundation to look after southwestern US, received the Deparment of Labor, after urging President-elect Perot to create jobs. He is the best ranked Latino in the cabinet.
-Kern Wildenthal was congratulated by the next President for his stewardship of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas ; it’s therefore our next Secretary of Health and Human Services.
-Robert Crandall, the boss of American Airlines, was the best pick for Secretary of Transportation.
-The first female Mexican American to enter the US cabinet, Lena Guerrero, came from Texas Railroad Comissionner to Secretary of Energy : it’s one of the Perot administration’s best spoil of war, as it deprives Governor Ann Richards from one of the most prominent Democrats in Texas.
-Texas Monthly, December 1992 issue


White House Chief of Staff Tom Luce

-Washington Post, December, 12 1992

« As I leave Congress, which has deceived me more than anything, and be replaced by the honorable governor Gregg, I’m happy to pursue my habits of bipartisanship into entering the first ever independant cabinet in this country. »
-Former Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH), into accepting the position of Secretary of Commerce, December, 14 1992


Secretary of Commerce Warren Rudman

-Washington Post, December, 19 1992


Secretary of Defense Colin Powell

The cabinet selections were a long process, but in the end, they were rather successful. We were very happy with the picks of Kirkpatrick, who was a true Reaganite hawk, of Rohatyn, who was first a Clinton backer, of Lena Guerrero, who was Texas’ rising star at the time, and of Kemp, Rudman… But above all, we were the most proud of Colin Powell in the Pentagon : I personally led the negotiations with him, and by making him the highest ranking African American in US history, we deprived the Republicans of an elegible and popular war hero, who was disgusted by their shift to conservatism.

However, there were many difficulties. Tom Luce, for a time, wanted to hire Hillary Clinton as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The woman who was almost First Lady ! It’s quite an illustration of how much we searched for possible picks in all sides.

Speaking of Tom Luce, he first wanted to go to the Department of Justice, but he finally accepted to become Chief of Staff, knowing that he would be much more powerful and that Ross had more plans for him. It was Ed Rollins’ big failure, who had accept the position of Deputy Chief of Staff. Gerald Rafshoon got the job of White House Communications’ Director, James Squire as Press Secretary, John P. White as Director of the Office of Management of Budget. Myself, I became White House Counsel, even if I must admit that I petitioned for some time for Solicitor General.

At 62, visiting the White House with outgoing President Bush who was barely refraining a grin, Ross showed an incredible energy, eager to take matters into his own hands. He repeated during all the transition process that he would dedicate to the suppression of NAFTA and the passing of a balanced budget bill… He had the enthusiasm of the newcomer.

-From The President’s Son-in-Law : Memoirs from Washington, by former White House Counsel Clay Mulford


White House Counsel Clay Mulford

Twelve years after the election of an actor-turned-president as the leader of the free world, the election of Mr. Perot seems rather logical : having a businessman elected head of state is finally the most perfect illustration of the American dream and valors of hard work and perseverance, and his quixotic yet successful campaign has something of a Hollywood movie. But the administration of the businessman-turned-president could turn in a nightmare could turn precisely into an utter failure due to his nature of businessman.

A CEO thinks the best way to administer a company is to recruit the best people, to address each issue in due time and without bias, to concentrate in specific aspects but, above all, to be obeyed and reach the best and most profitable outcome for the organization. It’s maybe how capitalism works, but that’s not how politics work. Mr. Perot has paid most of his campaign spending by himself, and it’s honourable due to the culture of lobbying implemented in the United States, but he will never buy an election, and he will never be obeyed by Congress.

Both Houses of Congress have virtually the power to curb down each decision of the President, and both are held by the Democrats who, after twelve years of Reagan-Bush presidency, were eager to take back the Oval Office, but now have the impression that the election has been stolen from them, having won the popular vote ; furthermore, the balanced budget amendment, which constitutes Mr. Perot’s hobby-horse, is something of an utter horror for most of the Democratic leaders. And the Republicans who would otherwise appreciate the initiative are furious with Mr. Perot, who has borrowed much of their electorate and vows to dismantle the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, which was to be Mr. Bush’s masterpiece.

Even if the President-elect vows to bring a new era of bipartisanship in American politics, it seems that he is about to build a consensus...against him.
-The Economist, January, 4 1993

« CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST : Are you ready to take the oath, Sir ?
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST : I, Henry Ross Perot, do solemnly swear…
PRESIDENT PEROT : I, Henry Ross Perot, do solemnly swear… »
-Transcript of the inauguration of Ross Perot as the 42nd President of the United States, January, 20 1993

« We must do everything in our power to turn his presidency into a political quagmire. »
-Overheard phone conversation by then-Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-WA-5)

« The people has decided, the people wanted me to assume the presidency of these great United States of America in these times of revival and new opportunities ; but I’m not the President, I’m the People’s President, and I will lead the People’s state, by the people, for the people, and through the people. »
-Inaugural address of President Ross Perot, January, 20 1993


President of the United States Henry Ross Perot

Ed Harris (The Abyss, Apollo 13, The Rock, Pollock) has confirmed that he had been recuited by Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on a Fourth of July, JFK, Planet of the Apes) to star in his scheduled biopic on former President Perot, which is currently in casting process. Brandon Lee (The Crow, Matrix, A.I., Batman : Year One) has been confirmed in a yet-undisclosed role.
-IMDB Newsdesk, April 2012
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Orville_third - Nothing: Deputy President Tro Tempore of the Senate is an honorific title bestowed to any former President or Vice President who goes to serve to Senate after. The only one who have enjoyed this distinction IOTL is Hubert Humphrey.

Constantinople, John Fredrik Parker, -
Thank you!

Plumber - Jeff Bridges has something soft and dull when he plays idiots (I think of the Big Lebowski) that Ignatius Reilly, in his violence and scorn, hasn't. It's not the same thing for Hoffman, who looks too sophisticated. But maybe I'm biased by their other roles.

historybuff - As he tried to launch his own mission to save the Iranian hostages and participated to negotiations to save PoWs during the Vietnam War, but was against spending too much money overseas, I see him as an average hawk.

Cathcon1, Dead Sea Squirrels - Even if I am of South Vietnamese origin and is greatly admirative of Vietnam War veterans (from John McCain to Max Cleland, and of course James Stockdale), I don't think Stockdale at his old age who have been indicated for anything else than Veterans' Affairs. He was a terrible pick as VP for Perot and would've likely retired in the end.
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